What’s It About?
When Amanda suddenly discovers that her daughter, Gloria, isn’t actually her real daughter as she was switched accidentally at birth, she travels around the world in search of her birth daughter, determined to bring her back to the safety of Canada. Meanwhile, when Sonya, a Russian Jew living in Canada, kicks out her drunken husband, Alexei, she not only has to battle financially, but against her daughter, Ksenya, who won’t forgive her for sending Alexei away.
The story is told from the points of view of Amanda, who is searching for her real daughter, and Sonya, who is struggling with everything in life at that moment. Due to the kind of story it is, it doesn’t take a lot to work out what is going to happen, and there really aren’t any surprising plot-twists. However, I don’t feel that this was an issue, as it is a story about the characters and them trying to find their own identities. I personally would have liked to see more of Amanda’s daughter, Gloria, as I found her struggles particularly interesting, and I was very annoyed at Amanda’s discard for her feelings.
While this novel had an interesting (though not original) hook, I found that the telling of it fell a little flat for me. The main reason for this was the character of Amanda – I just could not bring myself to like her, or even understand her reasoning. This meant that the story, which is about discovering identity, didn’t really hold me as I couldn’t follow Amanda on her emotional journey. That said, I found the opposite to be true of Sonya and Ksenya. They both felt real and I wanted to find out what would happen to their relationship. However, I really struggled with their names as I have no idea how to pronounce Ksenya, and every member of their family had at least two names (one Russian, one ‘Western’), and Sonya was also referred to as Sofia which just made the story difficult to follow and a bit confusing.
As well as the name issue, I did struggle a little with the flow of the story as the author uses commas in abandon, particularly in the first half of the book. I don’t normally mention grammar as even badly written novels can still be enjoyable if it’s a good story (though, as a writer, I of course would prefer a well-written, enjoyable story), but in this instance, it frustrated me enough to not want to continue reading at points.
In generally I found this to be an okay read, with a few moments that really shone. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it (though I also wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading it), but I will be looking forward to future work by Olga Godim, as I think that with a bit of experience, she could create truly compelling books.
Overall rating: 25/5
[Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.]